Honoring Tradition.
Celebrating Life.

Phillip D. Harter

February 25, 1947 - May 4, 2023
Walker, MI



Friday, May 19, 2023
11:00 AM EDT
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel
2120 Lake Michigan Dr., N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 453-8263

Visitation for one hour prior to the service.

Driving Directions

Life Story / Obituary


With love, honor, and unwavering commitment, Phillip Duane Harter lived a life rich in family and friends. Quiet and introspective, Phillip was a keen observer and felt things more deeply than some. He was also a bit stubborn, which served him well when he pursued new interests and experiences. Whether dedicating himself to his career, family, health, or latest project, Phillip gave his all and never required the spotlight. His heart's delight was his family, and he cherished every moment he shared with them. A devoted husband, father, and grandfather, Phillip will long be remembered and so very missed.

1947 proved a year of continued celebration of the nation's momentous victory in World War II. America's heroes eagerly returned home to a country filled with renewed spirit and hope, ready to claim their share of the American Dream, which they fought so proudly for overseas. As American prosperity grew like no time in our history hope sprang eternal, and the Greatest Generation soon proliferated, creating the age of the Baby Boomers. In Carson City, Michigan, the cause for celebration grew even greater for Orley Harter and Geneva Hancock as they welcomed their son Phillip on February 25.

Phillip was the fourth of his parents' five children; Clifford, twins Ron and Don, and Nancy were his first friends. After his parents divorced, both married again. His father and stepmom, Glennis, had two children together, Dean and Alene Harter. And, when his mother married Carl Bloomquist, Phillip gained three step-siblings, Reginald Bloomquist, Larena Rzadca, and Ralynn Hansen. Growing up in Carson City, Phillip learned the value of hard work from his parents. His father worked as a car mechanic, and his mother was an upholsterer at Chrysler. He also developed a deep love for the outdoors. Whether hunting pheasant, deer, or morel mushroom with his brothers, he always had a good time. Following his graduation from Carson City High in 1965, Phillip attended Grand Rapids College of Bible and Music for a short time.

Phillip met Sandra Burns in Carson City. After dating for a time, they married in 1966 at Methodist Church in Carson City. In October of that same year, Phillip was drafted into the Army. While he was overseas serving in Vietnam as a Specialist E5 Radio Teletype operator, his son, Phillip, was born in 1967. After safely returning home, the family settled in Cedar Springs, son Mark was born in 1973, and Phillip took a job with the Grand Rapids Police Department. For 25 years, Phillip faithfully served the department, working both on patrol and as a fraud detective. He also graduated from Grand Rapids Junior College and Aquinas College.

While in attendance at a wedding reception, mutual friends introduced Phillip to Jeannette, a social worker for Spectrum Health, YWCA, and Montcalm Schools. Sparks flew, and the pair were soon dating. A year later, on April 27, 1991, they married in a ceremony at their friend Donna's home. After honeymooning in Belize, they made their home in Coopersville. Jeanette had two children, Mike and Jill; Jill lived with them.

A man of many interests, Phillip relished annual trips to South Dakota for pheasant hunting and mushroom hunting with his siblings. His hobbies included gunsmithing, reloading ammo, and making shells. He also fixed Massey Ferguson and Ford tractors, then used them around his home. He read books about the Civil War or Westerns and always seemed to have a new interest he was jumping into, even learning to roast and grind his own coffee beans. He liked quality things, and if he was going to spend money, it was going to be on top-notch items.

Phillip was a man of few words and preferred to eat at home, but after retirement, he liked meeting his cop buddies for breakfast and coffee every Sunday morning. Phillip kept journals and documented things of interest, like keeping track of the day's weather and activities. Committed to healthy living, Phillip was very active and followed a strict diet. Thousands of miles were logged walking or riding his bike on Musketawa Trail, savoring his time outdoors. He liked working in the yard and around the house and also enjoyed sitting in his chair reading.

Without a doubt, Phillip's joy was his family. He adored his wife and loved his kids and grandkids. Though he wasn't one for initiating affection, he always welcomed the opportunity to engage with his loved ones in this way. He shared a very close bond with his granddaughter Genevieve, delightfully spending hours watching Harry Potter movies or playing games like Uno together. Sadly, after 32 happy years of marriage, Jeanette died on December 13, 2022. Brokenhearted, the loss of his beloved proved insurmountable.

As we celebrate Phillip's life and share our sudden loss, may we find comfort in knowing he is at peace. May we also find comfort in the honor of carrying the best of his legacy forward. Whenever we take to the trails on our bikes, walk the woods on a hunt, confidently pursue a new interest, share a cup of coffee with friends, watch a favorite movie with a favorite person, or enjoy the gift of a loving companion, we celebrate the gift of Phillip's life. In this way, we keep his spirit alive and inspiring others as he inspired us.

Mr. Phillip D. Harter passed away unexpectedly on May 4, 2023. He was preceded in death by his wife, Jeannette, in December of 2022. Phillip is survived by his stepmom, Glennis Harter; children: Phillip (Laura) Harter, Mark (Deven) Jones, Mike (Lori) Renfroe, and Jill Renfroe; 10 grandchildren; 4 great-grandchildren; his brothers and sisters, half-brother and sister, and step-siblings. He served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and with the Grand Rapids Police Department for many years. The memorial service will be held at 11 AM on Friday, May 19, 2023, at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Alt and Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. Family and friends will gather for visitation for one hour prior to the service. Contributions in his memory may be made to Grand Rapids Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #97. Please visit www.heritagelifestory.com to read Phil's life story, submit a favorite memory or photo, or sign the guestbook.